I’ve wept with this woman. Prayed with this woman. Laughed loud with this woman and served alongside her. I’ve been changed by the heart of this woman for Jesus. Couldn’t love her more. Her passionate commitment is to simply and powerfully allow the light of Christ to shine through the broken places of her story. Sheila Walsh doesn’t merely write words, she lives her words — and the Word. When things aren’t okay, I honestly don’t know a wiser, more life-giving, Jesus-clinging guide than Sheila Walsh. Do you struggle to pray? Do you ever wonder if God is listening? It’s a grace to welcome Sheila to the farm’s front porch as she reminds us that we are seen, we are known and we are loved…
It’s the simplest things in life that expose my brokenness. I can stand on a platform and speak to 20,000 people and not be nervous at all.
I know why they’re there. They’re there because they want God to touch them.
I am simply the earthly vessel that holds the hope.
But, put me in front of a photographer and I’m not so comfortable.
I still see myself in many ways as the shame-filled overweight teenage girl with bad skin and greasy hair, and instead of helping her out, I sabotage her efforts with two of my friends, Ben and Jerry.
Have you ever done that? It’s almost like we’re afraid to let ourselves win.
Instead, over and over, we set ourselves up to fail. Then we get mad at ourselves and pick up that overcoat of shame that’s never far out of reach.
The truth remains, God is not mad at you and that overcoat doesn’t belong to you. Jesus wore it on the Cross.
In the spring of 2019 my husband Barry and I drove to a little town in Texas for a photo shoot for the cover of my new book. I’d never met the photographer, but I’d seen pictures of the place where we’d be shooting.
It was a large white barn that’s usually used for weddings. That morning, our local weather guy predicted the worst storms we’d had in Texas all year. He said we’d see hail stones the size of baseballs.
I saw that as an out and suggested to Barry that we reschedule the shoot. He suggested that I get in the car.
The drive took a little less time than we thought it would, so we arrived before the photographer and the rest of the team. While Barry was unloading some things from the car, I went inside.
It took my breath away. It looked more like a church than a barn. All the wood was painted white. It had high ceilings and was flooded with natural light from the windows. Barry had brought a white chair from home and he sat it in the middle of the room while he went back to the car to take a phone call.
There was silence in the room and for a moment the sun burst through the rain clouds casting a golden glow on the white chair sitting in the middle of this vast, empty space and, in my spirit, I heard my Father say, “Come and sit for a while.”
He had been waiting all along. I sat there, warmed by the sun, remembering who my Father is. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
As I sat on the chair that day in the stillness, my insecurity took a back seat. I was reminded of how God sees me, loved, chosen, bought with the greatest price anyone has ever paid for anything.
That truth is hard to keep hold of in our broken world.
I’ve watched others struggle in a million ways.
I didn’t see her until they put the lights up in the church for the morning break.
The church was full apart from the back row on the left where one woman sat alone. Later that day, I saw her again.
She was sitting on a bench outside the church. I’d slipped out of a side door to get a little fresh air and, when I saw her, I walked over to where she sat and asked if I could join her.
She moved her purse and I sat down. We didn’t say anything for a few moments. Then she told me that she’d driven four hours to come to the conference.
I thanked her for coming and asked if there was no one who could have come with her and shared the drive. She smiled a sad little smile and said that she knew all the women in the front two rows. They were all from the church where she used to be a member.
I asked her why she wasn’t sitting with them. She took a deep breath and looked down at her feet. Her story is one I’ve heard over and over.
Slightly different circumstances but in essence the same story, broken choices.
“I’m not welcome where I am known,” she said. There’s a lot more to her story but it’s hers to tell, not mine.
As we sat on the bench that day, she allowed me to pray for her as she cried out to God for mercy.
I had the joy of reminding her that the one place where she is known and always welcomed is in the presence of her Father.
He is waiting, always waiting.
What troubled her the most was that she knew what she was doing was wrong when she did it and did it anyway. I reminded her, that’s why Jesus came.
Jesus didn’t give His life for those who feel they have the right to march right up to the front of the church and list off everything they’ve done right.
Jesus came for those who sit in the back row crying out, “Be merciful to me, a sinner.”
God is waiting for you. He is listening.
When you are in conversation with God, you in the safest place – a place where you can be fully vulnerable, known, and loved regardless.
Whether you find a quiet place in a closet, a walk in the woods, or perhaps you can put a chair right in the middle of the largest space in your home and sit there and let His love flow over you.
Don’t sit in the dark; let the light of God’s love in. He is waiting.
Come as you are. You are not alone. God is listening.
Sheila Walsh is a powerful communicator, Bible teacher, and bestselling author with more than five million books sold. She is the author of It’s Okay Not to Be Okay, Praying Women, and the award-winning Gigi, God’s Little Princess, among others. She is cohost of LIFE Today with James and Betty Robison, with more than 100 million viewers. Walsh is a popular speaker and Bible teacher around the world.
Do you ever find it hard to pray and don’t know what to say? Prayer is one of the most powerful, life-changing things we will ever do, and yet we often struggle. It’s hard to find the time. It’s repetitive, we get distracted and sometimes even bored. And the answers often feel few and far between. The good news? There is a simple, powerful way to reignite your conversation with God.
In Praying Women, bestselling author Sheila Walsh shares practical helps directly from God’s Word, showing you how to know what to say when you pray, understand how to use prayer as a weapon when you are in the midst of a struggle, pray as joy-filled warriors, not anxious worriers, and let go of the past and stand on God’s promises for you now
Prayer changes you and it changes the world. You may have tried before, but if you’re ready to start again in your relationship with God, let Sheila Walsh show you how to become a strong praying woman.
[ Our humble thanks to Baker for their partnership in today’s devotion ]